WeareWISE is a personal and professional development program founded in 2015 by Lisa Issroff and the Issroff Family Foundation to provide engaged, intentional socially minded young women working in the social sector with access to growth opportunities and a community of peers. The program is hosted at the Issroff Family Foundation’s offices in Manhattan’s Financial District.

Over the course of the yearlong program, WeareWISE members attend monthly peer-led learning sessions that cover a variety of topics selected by discussion leaders. These sessions are typically two hours in length. Topics range, but are always in the spirit of sharing best practices for personal evolution and professional success. Items like metrics, networking, negotiating pay and work-life integration have previously been discussed in the group. In addition to monthly learning sessions, both current and alumni WeareWISE members are invited to attend WeareWISE’s quarterly speaker series, Community Conversations, with experienced women leaders to discuss additional topics as well as to participate in informal WeareWISE social gatherings.

Benefits of Participation

● Engagement in an active network of women in the social sector.
● Access to personalized problem solving through monthly sessions.
● Access to experienced leaders in the field.
● Professional development opportunities around career advancement.
● Development of presentation and discussion facilitation skills.
● Social activities, including annual day-long celebration.

Expectation for Involvement

● Commit as an active member for a full year, attending ALL peer-led monthly meetings.
● Facilitate one peer led meeting on a topic of individual choice.
● Respect confidentiality and create a courageous space.
● Engage in building a community including being active in post-program activities.
● Attend quarterly Community Conversations (strongly encouraged).

Membership Criteria

● Demonstrated involvement or interest in the social sector issues (ideally working with a foundation, social enterprise, or “non for profit” entity that has a competent of serving children or youth).
● Strong desire for personal and professional development outside of the workplace with limited access to these opportunities elsewhere.
● Interest in helping to develop and sustain a community of women representing diverse experiences, backgrounds, and cultures.
● 4+ years of professional experience.
● Ideally not a founder or ED or CEO of an entity.


WeareWISE welcomes a new cohort of 8-10 women twice a year. This group is carefully curated based on recommendations from previous WeareWISE participants and selected individuals within IFF’s network. The formal process for recruitment begins with a written application, comprised mainly of biographical details and reasons for wanting to join the network. The recruitment process also includes a conversation with Lisa Issroff as well as a conversation with a member of the WeareWISE alumni network. All potential members are furnished with the one pager detailing membership expectations to which they must be able to commit and a tentative meeting schedule.

Overview of IFF

The Issroff Family Foundation was established in 2007 by David and Lisa Issroff to partner with implementing organizations and their funding entities to improve outcomes for children and youth and the communities in which they reside, primarily in Southern and East Africa. With a focus on uplifting the lives of children and youth in order to realize their full
potential, IFF supports implementing partners to increase access to education and other services, encourage entrepreneurship, and foster opportunity. In addition to direct capacity building support and funding, IFF is deeply invested in helping to build organizational structure, and creating community and networks. This includes informal community building
between IFF partners and other funders in the sector as well as more formal networks such as WeareWISE and the Tri-State Area Africa Funders Network.

WeareWISE Member Profile